The Walking Dead: Must-Z TV

After much hype, anticipation, and promotion, AMC's The Walking Dead premiered last night, semi-appropriately on Halloween. It's not uncommon for shows with so much marketing behind them to disappoint. And given that The Walking Dead is an adaptation of a comic book much beloved by an incredibly discerning fan base, and there's plenty of reason to expect reviews summed up thusly: "The book was better."

Which is why I'm proud to say that The Walking Dead exceeded every expectation, even for those who are well ahead of the show's story because they've read what happens on the printed page. Taking a comic and converting it for the big screen is no small task, and producer Frank Darabont (Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile) does a fine job retaining the comic's strengths and reinforcing its weaknesses.

My biggest beef with the comics is the rapid pace at which things happen (my second-biggest beef would be the dialogue). But that's a problem with the medium; you can't waste valuable panels taking the time to bridge things together. Darabont has successfully filled those gaps, intensifying the emotion and tension necessary to pull off The Walking Dead as a horror series. Admit it, you were peeking through your fingers at some parts. What that means, though, is a slower series than one might expect given the breakneck speed of the comics.

But the deliberate pace of The Walking Dead is actually an asset, and its stretched-out scenes are carefully planned so that, like those who are running in fear from the undead, all our available senses are being taxed. The Walking Dead uses sound better than any show I've seen heard recently, particularly in its eerie lack of noise. As Rick (a very able Andrew Lincoln) headed down the stairs toward the hospital exit and tiptoed among the dead, the only sound cues we heard were the desperate flicking and fizzling of matches, the hum of cicadas, and Bear McCreary's haunting score. It works. And it works well. Surround Sound and high-definition are a must.

The pace also reiterates what this story is about: how the human psyche copes with the destruction of all things we hold dear. The Walking Dead isn't about zombies; it's about the people who are surviving among them and the lengths those people will go to in order to survive. It's an honest-to-goodness character study, and that will be much more evident when we get to Episode 2.

We knew The Walking Dead would deviate from the comic, and for purists that can spell disaster. The show's sidesteps aren't yet drastic (we've only seen one episode, after all)—but for the television audience, so far they've only served the story better. One particular scene that was added—in which Morgan (Lennie James) took to the second story of his hideout with a sniper rifle and couldn't quite pull the trigger on his zombie wife—may have been the most difficult (and therefore awesome) scene to watch. The chatter between Shane and Rick at the beginning was also another addition that was necessary for television conversion, but it didn't feel tacked on. The trick to successfully turning a comic into a show is a matter of picking your fights, and Darabont has chosen wisely.

And oh the gore! I love me some splattered guts and flying brain matter, and The Walking Dead looks like a Megadeth album cover come to life. How many series do you know that make their first kill a little girl holding a teddy bear? Sure, she was a zombie, but still. And the gore isn't for shock value; it's necessary to the story and the way in which it's handled and shown on-screen is with much care. A special shout-out to the makeup and effects people is in order.

The Walking Dead has been described as a George Romero movie that doesn't end, and given the fact that the 90-minute first installment of the series encapsulated only about an issue and a half (the comic is currently somewhere in the high 70s or early 80s in number of issues), this series could go on for quite some time. I'll be watching. Next week: my boy Glenn!

Which zombie death was your favorite?
... Little girl with teddy bear
... Rick's cop friend through the chain link fence
... The sniper victims and their exploding brains


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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Having read the comic book I was looking forward to it and was ready to give it chances if they change a few small things... they changed a lot. It's not 'The Walking Dead' but ' Alternative Universe Based off The Walking Dead'. No thanks, 2 episodes in and I'm finished with it. Girl with teddy bear was stupid, they started show with a zombie encounter FFS, why!?!



Sorry KassieK but he wakes up in hospital in the book also not just the show.



The Zombies aren't the ones from the book but more like Romero zombies from Land of the Dead & onward.BAD.



Wish they would stop calling the Zs "Geeks".
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The slow pace of the show is an absolute plus!
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zombie sucks
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I love this show about time.
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I liked it so much I podcasted about it http://www.thetvcritic.org/casts/28.The_Walking_Dead_101_Days_Gone_Bye.mp3
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Defn praise to the special effects team. I was SO certain that that half bodied crawler was being played by one of those half bodied humans. This series is a keeper and a multi-watcher
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... Little girl with teddy bear
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Best death: when Morgan shoots the zombie in the street right in front of Rick. Awesome and unexpected
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I liked th half zombie best, too. It looked so awesome and it looked like it still had something human in it.... AWESOME SHOW!
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The half of Zombie is my favorite. It understood to never say die!!!
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"Mindful that abroad people tend expect shock and awe when -zombies- arrive on the scene, we shall leave you with two small, but lasting words. Walking Dead… eh?"

-hopefully someone will remember which show this quote was originally from, however, the sense remains, this show is plain awe for viewers all around the orb.
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The zombie with half a body crawling in the field. Her situation was heartbreaking in a way.
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Hey D-Dawg, just to put your mind at ease, it has been renewed for a second season. From what I read AMC picked it up before the pilot even aired due to all the positive feedback it got at Comic-Con. The show was everything I hoped it would be, definitely didn't disappoint.
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omg, this show is amazing. the raw emotion of the men grieving for their wives was the most affecting part. i can not wait to watch the next episode.
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wonderful :)
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A work of art I loved it to bits
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This show was absolutely amazing. Cannot wait for next Sunday. Please renew this soon so I can feel a little bit more relaxed when I watch it. I mean, it's bad enough that I have to jump every time I see a zombie, but can I at least have the stress off of my head of knowing the series will be renewed? :)
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the hospital scene was not invented by 28 days later, maybe someday people will release that cinema has been around longer than 10 years...
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Although i was a bit bothered by them borrowing the little girl from (the remake of) Dawn of the Dead and the 2nd scene waking up in a hospital from 28 Weeks later, i must say i was very happy with the pilot as a whole. I'm dissapointed about 2 things: *The pilot was to short, i wanted to see more! Much more! -Which is actually a good sign, wanting to see more... Plus the creators making serious time to set a great foundation by putting in some emotion into the characters and the world they created. *I heard the first season will consist of only six episodes... Going cold turkey on this one is going to be the hardest for me since the first season of Lost! Then again... let's hold off on that last bit till we've seen 2 more episodes.
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I was initially worried that they wouldn't do the zombie genre justice, but this show totally works, I love it, and intend on watching it more!! :)
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brilliant, awesome show people, awesome
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This was brillant. I love the Little girl with the teddy bear...wait I loved everything! I can't wait for the rest of the series! (:
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This was brilliant! AMC are doing a bang up job. Thank god its not turned into some teenage pop culture like they have with vampires. Can't wait till next week!!!!!
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Although I loved the pilot, I wouldn't mind a 10-20% increase in pace, because I'd like to tell people who don't want a lot of tv about this show, and cable shows always make that hard.
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I wonder what George A. Romero thinks of The Walking Dead. I bet he thinks it's an instant hit, which is exactly what it is. This show serves as an homage to the traditional zombie movies. I might celebrate the success of the premiere by playing Resident Evil today.
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this felt more like movie than tv series.cant wait for next week!
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FAST RUNNING ZOMBIES FIRST APPEARED IN "RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD" IN THE MID 80s ... NOT 28 DAYS LATER. It also featured zombies created by a government experiment gone wrong and the first zombies to groan "Braaaaaaaaaaaiiins" (AFAIK), Excellent movie with awful sequels. Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wylpeAXYcBQ
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Compared to the likes of the X Files, Lost or The Event (to name but a few), this thing moves at the speed of light.
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AMC strikes television gold again with hands down the best new show of the fall. This show is the epitome of Must See T.V. Look at that, I just tacked on another rhyme to a phrase that already rhymes, I am so clever. Let's see anybody top that literary gem.
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If the comic had a rapid pace, then the pilot developed slowly. I can understand that since it was the pilot. In the beginning you need to establish the bleakness and hopelessness of the situation. Empty streets and the last survivors separated from each other. But I do hope the show picks up the pace in future episodes. I want some interaction between people. Not just scenes with empty streets and fields and "walkers" taking head-shots every now and then. I did like the moments dealing with the question of humanity, though. That usually is the point in these kind of stories. Killing those who are seemingly human but still not. For example when Rick Grimes shot the walker missing the lower part of its body and saying he is sorry for what happened to her.
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Actually 28 Days Later came almost a year (11 months) before the comics...
Still it's a pretty decent show and I don't see any problem with the pace, this is a complaint that has being plaguing a lot of recent show (Rubicon, SGU, and many others dramas) but I welcome the change from the 24 school of thinking (action every time everywhere) that ended up being completely ridiculous.
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favorite zombie: the one sleeping inside the tank :D
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The baseball bat kill was the best.
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Just saw the Premier over here in Mexico and let me just tell you THIS is AWESOME ! ! !
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Well i know the future because i have read the comics and i have to say that this episode was awesome for me. So it should be even better for the people who does not know what is going to happen. Its a bit slow but its OK. If they can keep the atmosphere like they did in this episode everything will be OK.
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Zombies are awesome.
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excellent first episode
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The Walking Dead premier did not disappoint! So much atmosphere and action makes it a fitting replacement for Rubicon.
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I have not read the comics, so I don't know what to expect, but the show looks promising. Although I did NOT "peek through my fingers" at any point. The pace was really slow, and I hope it picks up a little bit. When the little girl zombie was shot, that got my attention. I felt bad for the half zombie dragging itself and for the poor horse that was attacked. I am glad Rick put that half zombie out of its misery; it looked really gross and miserable. I am curious to see how Rick gets out of the tank that is currently surrounded by zombies. I hope we see more of Morgan and his son. And possible drama coming as a result of Rick's wife and his deputy partner getting close (at least I think that was his wife and partner kissing). I am excited that AMC is giving a recurring tv show like this a chance; it's usually only in movies that we see zombies.
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for spoontown:
dont talk about **** u dont, the intro was actually ripped of by both project from the The Day of the Triffids, not to mention the comic is better because it doesnt have a lame second half ( well not yet...)
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The little girl was the best one! Second to the half zombie then the tank guy. What an amazing premiere! I think the slow pace really added to the tension and intensity. I haven't read the comics, but I'm already a huge fan of the show!
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Little Zombie girl picking up teddy bear, then getting shot in the head........ and then, cut to intro credits. Superbly done.

An EXCELLENT way to start off the series. What I also loved was the 'Walkers'... sort of an in between of Romero's older slow moving zombies, and some of the updated fast running 28 Days Later zombies. I for one was glad that they weren't too fast or too slow. I liked the fast-paced walk. Morgan (Lennie James) was a pleasant surprise as he was fantastic in Snatch and Human Target.... I will be tuning in every week!
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For Spoontown - The Walking Dead was created at the same time as 28 Days Later. Their pre-production (for both projects)was SIMULTANEOUS. Neither stole the idea from the other, they just both happen to be devised by super-talented writers. If I were you, I'd give it a chance, especially if you are a fan of Dead-Set.
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@Spoontown, the Walking Dead comics started at the same time the 28 Days Later movie came out, so I wouldn't really consider it a ripoff.. Anyways, amazing premiere, Bear's soundtrack was a pleasant surprise as I haven't read up too much on the show, and oh god, how eerie and suspenseful parts felt, if it keeps up the quality for long enough, it may have a chance at being the best thing on in ages.
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My favorite zombie death was Rick's pal in the tank. That guy just looked surprised that someone was in there with him...and Rick just plugged him instantly. Maybe the dude just wanted a friend? I loved the pilot, and can't wait till next week. Huge fan of Glenn (and Andrea, who is played by the incredibly beautiful and hot Laurie Holden) and can't wait to see what happens.
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There is only one Megadeth album cover that is gory out of 12 studio albums, you just plucked the first metal band you could think of out of the air. That is so lazy and insulting to metal it's not even funny. Megadeth album covers are more likely to be political than gory, maybe try using Cannibal Corpse or someone like that next time you want to compare a gory programme to a metal album.

After that I'm tempted to just disregard this whole article, and say that Dead Set did zombies on TV 2 years ago, and the start of this just sounds like 24 Days Later, really don't know whether to bother with this, sounds like nothing original and the comic just nicked the idea from the great British film that came out before the comic even started.
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That was the best drama for an apocalyptic horror but the worst make-ups for an horror. The story behind the characters are very interesting.
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I missed it. But I Tivo'd it. So I'll watch it soon (:
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Best zombie kill: the legless one for the same reasons Eric10301 says.

Great episode with a disturbing eye of grisly detail (headshots, decaying bodies, etc...). Same disquiet and claustrophobic feel as 28 Days Later in my humble opinion.

If this was Resident Evil a zombie would gnawing its way through the tank by now. Luckily it far surpasses that fiasco of a movie.
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I really enjoyed the first episode. I am definitely sticking around to see what is going to happen. Every shot was great because we got a chance to see each one up close and personal. It was awesome. I will be tuning in to watch every week.
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